The more Healthy Hollywood learns about a plant-based diet, the more convinced I am to go green.
We’ve all heard celebrity meat shunners, like Russell Brand, Lea Michele and Carrie Underwood, credit a vegetarian diet for their healthy state of mind and body. A vegan (or vegetarian) diet is hailed as the key to more energy, better-looking skin, weight loss, and less disease.
Recently, Healthy Hollywood stumbled upon “Thrive Foods,” which is a super informative read on a plant-based lifestyle and includes over 200 yummy recipes. “Thrive Foods” is written by Brendan Brazier, who is a professional ironman and founder of the whole food nutritional line, Vega. He is one of the few pro athletes in the world whose diet is 100 percent plant-based. Brazier, who also works with pro athletes and actors, like Hugh Jackman, believes an all-plant diet does a high-performing body good.
Healthy Hollywood interviewed Brendan on the power of a plant-based diet. Here are a few of his insights.
What are the benefits of a plant-based diet?
Having experienced first-hand the power of consuming a whole, plant-based diet, I can tell you that even a small change can help you achieve real health benefits. Adding some clean, quality superfoods--such as kale, spinach, hemp, berries, and sea vegetables--to your daily diet will yield measurable change. Adding more plant-based whole foods to your diet will help decrease body fat, diminish visible signs of aging, boost energy, cultivate mental clarity, enhance mood, eliminate cravings, improve sleep quality, build a stronger immune system, and lower cholesterol.
What is the hardest part in making transition to a plant-based diet?
A common challenge for many people transitioning to a plant-based diet is time to prepare a variety of fresh, nutrient-dense, complete plant-based meals each day. With my busy training and travel schedule, this is an obstacle that even I am constantly trying to overcome. One of my go-to habits is incorporating at least one nutrient-dense smoothie into my daily routine, since they are so quick and easy to prepare. For an added boost, I often incorporate Vega One into my blended drinks; then I am sure I am getting tons of vitamins and minerals, protein, fiber, and Omega-3s, among other benefits.
How are our stress levels related to nutrition?
Second only to overconsumption, the greatest reason for obesity in North America is that we are simply inundated with more stress than our adrenal glands can deal with in a healthy way. The stresses of modern life have the same cortisol-raising potential as physical stress. Most North Americans have elevated cortisol (a stress hormone) levels, which prevent the body from toning muscle and burning fat effectively, even despite regular exercise. Nutrient-dense whole foods can alleviate a considerable amount of that stress.
What are some basic tips folks can make to begin the transition to more of a plant-based diet? Certain foods we should add to diet? Or eliminate?
Fortunately, what we choose to eat is under our control and can have a commanding influence on our overall stress levels. Be gradual. For example, start introducing legumes slowly into the diet to allow time for the digestive system to adapt. Try a smoothie. A nutrient-packed smoothie with chlorophyll-rich foods in it and a large leafy green salad each day will make a significant difference and is easy to make.
Finally, can you outline your guiding principles to a healthy lifestyle and how it relates to an optimal eating plan?
1. Eliminate biological debt: acquire energy through nourishment not stimulation. Choose food that will sustain you in the long term – not food you are going to “pay” for later in life or just quick pick-me-ups that aren’t sustainable.
2. Go for high net gain foods. Make a small investment for a big return. Natural unrefined whole food digests with a considerably lower energy requirement than refined foods. Therefore, we can gain more usable energy from simply eating foods that are in a more natural whole state, even if they have fewer calories.
3. Aim for a high percentage of raw and low-temperature cooked foods.
There are several advantages to eating a large quantity of raw food in place of its cooked counterpart. Ease of digestion and assimilation, which directly translates into additional energy by means of an increase in net gain, is the most significant. Enzymes that contribute to overall health and aid digestion are not present in cooked food; heating above 26 Whole Foods to Thrive 118 degrees Fahrenheit destroys them. Before the body can turn cooked food into usable fuel, it must produce enzymes to aid in the digestion process.
4. Choose alkaline-forming foods. The measure of acidity or alkalinity is called pH, and maintaining a balanced pH within the body is an important part of achieving and sustaining peak health. If our pH drops, our body becomes too acidic, adversely affecting health at the cellular level. Minerals and chlorophyll both are alkaline-forming.
5. Avoid common allergens. Sensitivities to certain foods are exceptionally common. Wheat, gluten (in wheat), corn, soy, and dairy are the most common of these allergens. Many people have a food sensitivity—or several sensitivities—but they just don’t know it. Test by removing one food at a time for a period of 10 days so that you can isolate your reactions. If your symptoms subside when you are off the food, then you will know that it causes you problems and you’d be better off removing it from your diet.
For more information on “Thrive Foods” and Brendan, check out www.myvega.com.